The Kauffman Foundation’s “National Report on Early-Stage Entrepreneurship in the United States” in 2020, indicated a spike in the number of new founders with few other income options, compared to those who transitioned from existing jobs to entrepreneurship as an opportunity.
This is concerning because desperation can make one focus on what there is to gain from owning a business versus the work and risk it takes to sustain it.
In addition to an article in the November 2020 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine entitled “5 Questions Every Founder Must Ask,” let me add a few questions of my own:
· Is your family supportive? Are they well informed as to the business idea, the possible gains, the risks and the home responsibilities you’ll have to off load as you build your business?
· When you plan your day, are you able to prioritize, manage your time and follow through?
· Is your work environment free of distractions and interruptions?
· Have you a way to handle stress, get a good night’s sleep and sufficient exercise?
Being your own boss and creating something that folks will pay for is an enticing proposition, but one that requires “eyes open” all the way.
When we report to someone else there is a structure. As a founder, you need to create your own structure. Let me help you plan, get things done (even the more odious tasks!), done well and on time. Contact me at [email protected]
That suggestion from Dr. John Izzo’s book Stepping Up should strike a chord in the minds of those who want to be more effective leaders. “Posturing” yourself as a leader is a way to inspire others by your actions. It includes how you choose your words, the sound of your voice, how deeply you listen, how you problem solve and respond to setbacks. The title of CEO means little if the person holding the position lacks the presence of a CEO. Currently, I’m working with a small business that is training managers to be leaders. I asked them to write down the traits that they aspire to and want to communicate to their direct reports. Interestingly, many of the traits listed are the traits these budding managers admired in the CEOs who came before them: direct talk, caring, efficient, organized, energetic, etc.
The Number One rule in Dr. Jordan Peterson’s book The 12 Rules of Life: An Antidote to Chaos is to “Stand up straight with your shoulders back.” Presenting yourself physically as confident and strong sends powerful messages to your team. More than an influential pose, good posture can change your mood and your physiology. Research shows that a strong physical posture releases a flurry of neurotransmitters, serotonin, for example. Standing up straight sends a message to your brain to release serotonin which mimics the effects of anti-depressant medication. You feel happier and get better sleep when your serotonin levels are high.
Start your day standing up straight with the intention to consistently demonstrate the leadership qualities you aspire to. Write them down and post them in a few different places as reminders. Watch how your behaviors shape the actions of your employees and, consequently, how your combined actions boost the bottom line.
Emotional regulation is the most important core skill. Regular meditation and a good sleep regimen, among other methods, foster the emotional competency needed for successful decision-making and execution. A common complaint among my entrepreneur clients is their struggle with “a racing mind.” A racing mind jumps from one thought to another at random, making it seemingly impossible to let go of fears and worries. Meditation, or attempts to fall asleep at a normal hour can be maddening. Perhaps this is why many folks keep the noise and distractions alive because “quiet” for them is a breeding ground for worry.
For a person suffering from anxiety or depression, worry finds an opening in a vacuum of quiet. Real concerns and irrational imaginings can flood your mind filling every nook and cranny with fear. If not managed, a mind out of control can lead to panic attacks, chronic insomnia and/ or depression. To naturally slow down your mind and steer it in a more positive direction, try these methods:
1) Before bedtime or prior to an attempt to meditate, write down all that’s bothering you. List the things you can control, and accept the ones you can’t control. Include any solutions to these problems. Putting them in writing helps you address them and move on, hopefully to less worrisome thoughts.
2) Have ready some “detours” for your mind when worry intrudes. In advance, create a gratitude list, an outline for your next blog, or prepare some mantra-like affirmations using your name, for example: Carole, everything is OK, or Tom, you’re doing the best you can; it’s all you can do.
3) Repeat a favorite prayer over and over.
4) Shift to a breath pattern that takes up a lot of mental space. Choose a breathing pattern that requires enough focus to overwhelm negative thoughts: Lie on your back with one hand on your chest and another on your midsection. Inhale and exhale audibly through your nose for 3 slow counts in, hold your breath for 2 counts and breathe out for 4 slow counts. Feel your heart beat slow down as your midsection rises and falls.
What other ways have you found to calm your racing mind? Share them with me, anonymously if you wish, at [email protected] and I’ll post them for other founders to see. Let’s help each other weather the highs and low of entrepreneurship.
If you took any significant time off for vacation, and if you are having or anticipating a sluggish transition back to work, consider these tips:
Once you’re back, stow away all vacation paraphernalia as soon as possible: suitcases, event t-shirts or souvenirs. Lingering over pictures and vacay stuff is distractible and fortifies your post-vacay malaise.
If your post vacation to-do list gives you a sinking feeling, take several minutes to refresh your intention, the passion and purpose for your work.
Restore your (normalized, I hope!) pre-vacation sleep and exercise routines. Challenge yourself on Monday to add on another five pushups or sit ups to your daily workout.
Round up your team members and refine your goals for the next quarter. Encourage folks to share any ideas for the company that popped up in their minds while on vacation. Plan a couple affordable office events for the fall – apple picking, a picnic lunch, a Sunday brunch staff meeting at your house, etc.
Detox yourself. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of greens. Alcohol, junk food and lavish desserts drag down your energy; the effects of additives, bad fats and sugar can linger in your body for many days.
Think of one situation you encountered during your vacation that inspired you to greater heights in your life. Here are some examples of such moments:
• The golfing partner with the great attitude whose ball landed in every water hole or sand trap along the way, until he scored a hole-in-one at 18
• The waiter who gave you the greatest idea for enhancing customer service
• The fellow at the bar who shared a book that gave answers to a problem you’ve been dealing with for months
• The one-armed surfer and the veteran with the artificial leg who handily conquered 20 foot waves beating the normal-limbed competition “hands down.”
• The 95 year old man who stood in the hot sun at the finish line to cheer on his 85 year old college sweetheart.
Not enough solutions for you? How about a back-to-work-pick-me-up coaching session?
Are you exhausted and overwhelmed by the time and energy strategies for amassing social media followers? Have you been taken to the cleaners by social media gurus who promise to skyrocket your exposure? I refuse to spend valuable time luring people to my mailing list with phony contests, insincere dialog, vacation pictures or funnel systems that drain me. It feels disingenuous. I don’t want to spend my time connecting with people in those ways. Do you?
I suggest a better starting point that has greater short and long term payoff – get good, darn good, at what you do. If you’re focused on getting more exposure, a simple and targeted social media strategy can help, but I suggest you spend the majority of your resources on improving your knowledge base, reading, taking classes and applying that knowledge to your sessions with clients. Ignore the recommendations that defy your authenticity and intuition. If it feels goofy and sleazy, you’ll hate doing it and the universe will pick up on that! Instead, let stellar “word-of-mouth” reports be your goal. Show that you care more about your audience and their needs versus the number of “likes” you rack up. Collect and post feedback from those you have helped. Ask them to spread the word to their friends and colleagues. If you’ve done a good job, few will forget to tell others. Connect with your targets by being a frequent podcast guest or doing public talks. I’m not telling you to ignore having an online presence; but it’s intelligent content that will make you stand out and draw the folks you can help. Simple, meaningful and authentic engagement social media is a more sane and ethical way to build your business.
Become exceptional in your field! Let me help you create a plan for building your expertise to be one of the best in your industry. [email protected]